The elephant is still in the room: Women leaders in the Caribbean and the silent struggle`

BY RD Miller

The hazy mirror that revealed the past:

In the Caribbean and other impoverished and emerging countries, the glass ceiling may have shattered, but it remains intact.

This is a watershed moment in which political groups are discussing who is best positioned to lead them out of violent crime, endemic poverty, and a new path toward a brighter future.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Although these local political communities are frequently dominated by men, women have made significant contributions to their advancement, whether as educators, nurses, police officers, or wives who keep the family together.

Despite the fact that many great female leaders have emerged from our various societies, there is still a significant gap between gender equality and political advancement.

Leta Hong Fincher of CNN recently reported that a “United Nations and Inter-Parliamentary Union report highlighted that 10 of 152 elected heads of state were women, and men made up 75 percent of parliamentarians, 73 percent of managerial decision-makers, and 76 percent of people in mainstream news media.” Fincher said.

Perhaps it is not their talents or dedication to public service that has been questioned, but rather their “being a woman.”

This is not, however, an opinion on feminist movements.

There are many barriers that still exist in our society, and while I am not qualified to speak on them, many have been documented and may continue to play a role today.

However, I have selected a few cases near my home and presented my case.

Photo by Emre Can Acer

They were too tough, had strong opinions, had an attitude, and were unable to connect with changing demographics; they were disconnected from the working class.

Sadly, it seems on some of these shores, today, the selection of our modern-day female leaders resembles a “beauty pageant,” with their physical appearance taking precedence over their abilities or economic policies.

For example, I recently read about Lisa Hanna, a former World 1993 contestant and Jamaican Member of Parliament whose personal beauty overshadows her ideas.

I will address the elephant in the room later, which may have made upward mobility more difficult, and it is not an attack on any individual, but a mentality that may need to be adjusted to have a balance in our society.

However, there was little discussion of hidden sexism, misogynist views, low voter turnout, and parliamentary control in which some representatives appeared to be unaware of or respect their power to implement policies that would move these nations forward.

The room’s unspoken elephant:

According to political pundits, opposition leader Dr. Phillip was one of Jamaica’s finest legislators, and his experience benefited the country greatly.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

However, because demographics have shifted to a younger demographic, some likely voters may believe it is time to hand over power.

Can he or others, on the other hand, instantly remove the barriers that women frequently face in politics, barriers that have been woven by a decade of a stained mirror woven by an old colonial and slavery mentality that only a few people can overcome?

Most importantly, can he use his abilities and skills to capture the imagination of young voters and persuade them to change course or continue to steer this political ship into an iceberg?

To illustrate what I consider to be an elephant not only in Jamaica but across the globe. Based on local reports, and again, this can be viewed along the party line.

In the eyes of many Jamaicans, Lisa Hanna has a better chance of delivering a clear decision concerning the country’s future than any other candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

Does she or any other comrade have the power to force the resignation of the Honorable Dr. Phillips?
With regard to guard changes

For her to be the covenant leader, a less than enthusiastic male leader must step down from their chair.

Will she take the helm of Dr. Peter Phillips’ National People’s Party (PNP) as Leader of the Opposition?

Hon. Lisa Hanna: Member of Parliament-Jamaica

Will the power-holder, the Honorable Dr. Phillips, give up his position to her or another comrade after decades in office when it comes to changing guards has been the center of debates.

It looks like if this ship sinks, the current leadership is taking, if not everyone, at least a majority of the people on board.

Without a doubt, legislative elections should be centered on the next generation, with rigorous debates that properly align voters’ legitimate concerns and interests with their economic future.

The gradual rise of populism in the Caribbean, particularly in the Caribbean today, is never successful. It almost always results in obvious personal financial gains for many elected officials.

Again, this is not an opinion about Lisa’s ascension, descent, or obstacles; I conclude her account because it elucidates some fundamental issues surrounding women and governance.

A succinct summary of notable accomplishments from the archives:

The Hon. Eugenia Charles: Prime minister of Dominica, July 21, 1980, – June 14, 1995,

The Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller: Prime minister of Jamaica; March 2006 – September 2007 and again January 2012 – March 2016

The Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar Prime Minister: Trinidad and Tobago, May 2010 – September 2015.

Increasing numbers of women have emerged from the shadows in recent decades and sought positions of greater responsibility, but many have failed.

As a result of these holes in the ceiling, it has not been possible for anybody else to pass-through

Eugenia Charles was the first female prime minister of Dominica and the first female lawyer in the Caribbean. Since the death on July 21, 1980–until June 14, 1995, there has been no other death in Dominica.

Except for the late Eugenia Charles, Portia Simpson, and Kamla Persad all lost re-election bids. It resulted in more critical examinations of how they lost rather than their political achievements.

It’s clear from a few old accounts that even as the leaders of their countries, Portia Simpson-Miller and Kamla Persad weren’t immune to the idiocy and savagery of the press.

However, my focus is not on what should have been done, but rather on how these countries should proceed going forward.

As a side note, other women have served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles, which include Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and Bonaire, and are known as Dutch Caribbean colonies.

According to scholars, the elected parliament wields political power, and the government is appointed based on the composition of the legislature. That political system, on the other hand, is a little more complex.

A ray of light

Given the good of today’s issues, as I’ve outlined above, more women on these coastlines and other places, impoverished, industrialized, and developing, could make a significant difference, but the numbers are still troubling.

Photo by Julia Volk

There are other women all over the world who are inspiring others, breaking down barriers, and forging their own paths, particularly in poor and developing countries.

However, I only wanted to highlight a few for this opinion I believe are generally underestimated in terms of what they’ve accomplished, the challenges they’ve faced, and the work that still needs to be done to attain that balance.

Hope exists, but it will take more than just Prime Minister Mottley to bring it about.
Instead of waiting until the season is over to rebuild, the team must always have a group of reserves on hand to help develop the next generation of players.

Prime Minister Mottley is widely recognized as one of the region’s most brilliant independent thinkers, having previously been elected as the political opposition’s leader prior to his unexpected triumph in 2018.

The Hon. Mia Amor Mottley: Prime Minister of Barbados

She recently pushed for stronger moral leadership and critical collaboration to enhance health systems across the area, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is a breath of fresh air for the region, not only because of her charismatic leadership but also because she is a visionary who understands what it takes to lead in the twenty-first century.

Aside from that, she doesn’t accompany her caretaker since she wants to befriend the community that’s been following her. Reports say she put the interests of her country ahead of personal gain, mismanagement, and corruption.

While not all women agree on the same metrics, political approaches, or experience-based values, the drive for socioeconomic equality, upward mobility, and gender equity persists, as numerous scholars have emphasized.

A delicate balancing act

I’m not an expert on women’s politics, but despite the fact that more women are running for office in the region, it appears that the men in charge are still in charge.

A sizable contingent of supporters or women at the table does not always result in legislative victories.

Economic policy-making in the region sometimes resembles learning the ropes at a local mechanic’s shop. Only when a supervisor has no choice or can no longer lead, then they spread the opportunity to show off the staff skills.

Clinging to power, on the other hand, breeds division, disconnect, and a stalemate of new ideas for advancement, paving the way for the next generation of female leaders.

There will need to be a strategy to minimize organized crime and attract new investments that benefit everyone in order to reduce the gap between the wealthy and the poor in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, stagnating economic conditions, and high levels of employment.

Of course, some will push back to appear to be aware of these issues, and even a day at church before an election, which I understand; they’re all politicians, and I’m not in the room, but after the sermons for change, it seems to be the same scriptures.

If the regional legislative system requires future female leaders to win the approval of the system’s men in order to ascend to the top, this is problematic.

Will the elephants leave the room so that other well-qualified female leaders can become the party’s commander in order to be elected as the next Prime Minister?

The revolving door of leadership:

Every election cycle appears to have the same guards and a similar platform for economic prosperity on many fronts, jobs, education, and access to good and affordable healthcare regardless of party affiliation, particularly in poor and developing countries plagued by crime and economic stagnation?

While it comes to being a good leader, it’s all about being able to maintain a stable environment and recognizing that, as a passenger, you may benefit from the years of road experience you’ve gained rather than trying to drive when you’re distracted by personal requirements.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Perhaps term limits should be considered, and communities throughout the region should ask themselves: do they feel safer, better off, regardless of party affiliation?

Every vote has consequences, but losing an election does not mean that women’s advancement in the Caribbean is over.

More women in politics are needed, especially for adolescent girls who need a role model, better education, job opportunities, health, and security.

There are many people who believe in “democracy,” but it is an oligarchy that selects who they believe their community will recognize based on an emotional connection between themselves and their elected leaders.

This allows the elected leaders to gain more control over their personal power while pretending to be working for the community at all times.

According to the current political climate, this isn’t an excessively harsh criticism.
Many political leaders utilize appointed jobs as a way to show their commitment to diversity.

It’s possible to intentionally exploit even at the highest levels, with political titles, because they only hear her voice after the meeting

While sending Mother’s Day tweets to your constituents is a nice gesture, a comprehensive economic strategy aimed at lifting these young women out of poverty, victim rights, and or even diversion out of the criminal justice system would be far more beneficial.

Giving out a few shopping bags to the impoverished is always a good thing, but when it comes with a camera and a 30-second film to tweet, it’s approaching exploitation.

At least for the time being, this is an effective means of getting out the vote and getting a head start on the next election cycle, but its long-term viability remains an open question.

If access to important career paths remains stagnant, which is especially important for young women, many elections will have no effect on the importance of women’s issues.

Taking a stand in the face of reality.

To be more than a statistic, more women must unite around similar threads, regardless of political allegiance, to show that politics and action can be the difference between success and failure for students.

Photo by PICHA Stock

Because many of the women in the region’s official titles are “former,” this is not the time to embark on an apology tour, because it cannot become a safe haven.

It’s been proven in numerous studies that men are notoriously bad at apologizing for their mistakes.

To overcome these barriers, leaders must coach and encourage the next generation to lead. Young people in the region must believe that they have the potential to become the region’s leaders.

Approximately half of women in the workforce today have an undergraduate degree, matching the number of men with a college education according to Pew’s analysis and academic research.


Sadly, despite these academic achievements, there are still barriers to developing leaders and business owners who can serve as role models for the next generation of leaders and owners.

They must view the obstacles or chronic challenges that women confront as an integral part of them, rather than as women working in distinct areas of the house to change the hurdles, especially in impoverished communities.

The next generation of leaders in the region must know that there is still hope for them.

This is not a last-ditch appeal for males to resign from positions of authority. And just because you cannot see the elephant or he is unsightly does not imply he is not present.

I don’t have a ballot and I’m not voting for anyone. A female candidate should not lose an election just because she is female or because she is competing against a male candidate; similarly, a male candidate should not lose an election simply because he is running against a female candidate.

Given the complexity of the global economy, a candidate’s intellectual and physical capacity to lead a country in distress is a fair issue; yet, given the current situation, I believe she must have a fair shot to if she is equipped.



The team is made up of people from all over the world who work together to improve the lives of students. We collaborate with organizations, advocates, civic leaders, teachers, and public safety officials to raise social awareness and citizen action for the poor, students, youths, victims, and other vulnerable populations.

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